Gustnados an emerging climate crisis in Kerala- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Gustnados/gust wind, a whirlwind-like phenomenon, is becoming an emerging concern in Kerala, inflicting heavy property damage and putting lives at risk.This year, the frequency of gustnado-related climatic events has gone up in the state drawing the urgent attention of the authorities and weather experts. Of the districts, especially Thrissur has witnessed the most gustnado incidents of six in the past two months. Experts recommend long-term solutions, including amendments to building rules to make buildings less vulnerable to wind and bio-shields to minimise the damage, and crop insurance for farmers.

The recent gustnado event happened on Monday inflicting heavy damage to properties. Hundreds of trees, electric posts and several houses were damaged when it lashed Chalakudy in Thrissur. According to weather experts, the spatial distribution of gustnado has increased in Kerala in the recent past. It is learnt that the gust wind can reach 80-180 km/hour and will last only for seconds or up to ten minutes and can inflict maximum damage.

Associate professor Abhilash S of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), said gustnado is a shortlived vortex produced by the heavy wind by a thunderstorm. “This is happening more because of frequent changes in cloud structure in Kerala.

Thunderstorm formation is more in Kerala and this could be one of the reasons for the phenomenon. The storm can be extremely dangerous and unfortunately, we don’t have the facilities to map such storms or issue alerts as these are happening at a very localised level,” said Abhilash.

He said more studies and research are required and there is no doubt it’s going to be an emerging climate crisis in Kerala.  With the number of incidents going up, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) is planning to propose research and studies with the help of educational institutions and universities. “As this is a highly localised phenomenon, we could focus on specific places where this is happening repeatedly and find out reasons why this is happening,” said a KSDMA official.

Former KSDMA member K G Thara said microclimatic variations are happening in many parts of Kerala. It’s high time the state thought about long-term measures to minimise the damage.“The building designs are not suitable to resist winds in Kerala as these had never been a factor in our building design. The building rules and code have to be amended to make the houses more resistant to wind. A cyclone-resistant building code is already there and Kerala can make amendments and make it more suitable for the state,” said Thara.She said bio-shields need to be planted in the hotspots as part of disaster risk reduction.

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